Cleaning the heating coils for the cleaning line at Reliable Plating Works (RPW) was a real hassle. No one wanted to do it, and it took the line down for too long. The job often required a hammer just to remove the buildup.
Jaime Maliszewski, president of RPW, Milwaukee, WI, was tired of it. Not only was it time consuming, it was the cause of a great number cleaner-related rejects. "We tried a variety of ways to keep the cleaning coils clean, but nothing seemed to work," noted Jaime. Powder cleaners caused some of the problems. RPW had tried liquid cleaners, but they weren't aggressive enough. Powder cleaners, however, caused problems with the waste treatment system because of the chelators, and they created buildup on the heating coils, which inhibited heating. This, in turn, increased power consumption and lowered the effectiveness of the cleaners.
RPW decided it had to find an effective liquid cleaner. "In our search for optimum operating efficiency, we looked at methods to reduce cleaner-related rejects and keep with our goal of zero-discharge," stated Jeff Maliszewski, vice president of quality assurance and Jaime's brother.
Eventually, RPW found what it required in a cleaner from Deveco Corp. The cleaner has a higher phosphorus content, allowing for the break down of chemicals in the preplate cleaning chemistry for the nickel and chromium plating lines without resorting to chelators. The cleaner removes the grease, machining oils, welding scale and particulates that RPW often finds on the parts it plates.
RPW was able to reduce cleaner-related rejects by 60% using the new cleaner. Cleaner life has also been extended, since chemicals are easily filtered out of the solution, and the cleaner runs at a lower concentration. In the filtration process, iron, nickel and chromium are filtered from the rinse water, and the water is reused. The metals removed from the rinse water emerge as solid waste and are sent to the recycling facilities. Plating bath life has also been extended because there is less chemical dragout due to the lower concentration in the cleaners.
In addition, because there are no chelators in the cleaners, RPW was able to totally seal up the sewer. All water from waste treatment is reused in the rinses.
RPW also installed a self-monitoring system that analyzes the tank chemistry and feeds the cleaner into rinse tanks as required. Jeff Maliszewski commented, "This eliminates the need for workers to watch levels, measure and add chemicals. It is safer because the cleaners are caustic. Also, our people are not constantly monitoring the degreasing chemistry, so they can spend their time more productively."
Reliable discharges no plating waste to the sewer system and has achieved zero discharge at its facility, earning it a nomination as the Business Friend to the Environment in Milwaukee. It previously earned the Wisconsin Governor's Award for Hazardous Waste Reduction.